Eczema is a severely itchy rash that shows up as dry skin. It usually runs in families and happens to people who have allergies. 7-17% of children are affected by it; some of these children continue to have symptoms into adulthood, but many only experience it during childhood.
Eczema usually shows up as a scaly, raised rash and is most often found in the face, neck and extremities, particularly behind the knees and on the front of elbows. Moderate to severe cases are difficult to treat and often require prescription therapy, but for mild cases, most patients can easily control the problem. Here are some of the most important tips to remember for treating mild eczema.

  • Use non-soap cleansers (e.g. Cetaphil) or moisturizing soaps.
  • Use heavy-duty moisturizers, especially after bathing. This doesn't mean throw on some good-smelling lotion and call it good - this means thinks like petroleum jelly - something that will hold moisture in. It's best to apply this while skin is still damp.
  • Try to reduce exposure to abrasive clothes and especially to fragrant laundry detergent. Avoid heat, chemicals, smoke and stress, which can irritate the rash.
  • The best treatment for the outbreaks of the rash (at least in mild cases) is over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or ointment, although it shouldn't be used around the eyes for more than a few days.
  • Lotions can be used for itching - baby lotions for infants, lotions containing menthol for adults.
If these measures don't make the rash more manageable, go to a doctor. Certain rashes that look like eczema can be caused by bacterial infections, and more severe eczema may require different treatment.